No more fat cats

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has conducted a survey on the weight of our cat and dog companions every year for the last 5 years. This year marks the 6th annual survey when veterinarians and pet owners will file reports. The news is not good – last year 55% of adult cats were classified as either overweight or obese. The average normal weight for a cat is from 4.5 to 5.5 kg (10-12 lb). Yet last year, 30% of cats were at least 10% above their normal body weight and 25% of cats were at least 20% above their ideal weight. To help put it in context, a cat weighing 6 kg (15 lb) is equivalent to a 5’4” human female weighing 110 kg (242 lb) or a 5’9” human male weighing 128 kg (282 lb).

Weight graphObesity comes with considerable health risks in cats as it does in people. In particular, fat cats are at increased risk of diseases like diabetes, arthritis, lower urinary tract problems, cancer, heart problems, and breathing problems. In most cases, reducing to a normal weight will reverse the risk of these diseases. There’s no question that while we might think fat cats are cute, their lifespan is sadly shortened by the diseases they develop. And it’s totally preventable.

TinyIn the U.S., the information on pet obesity made the news on CNN (“Obesity epidemic strikes U.S. pets”). There’s no reason to think Canadian pets are any different. In fact, stories about fat cats are very easy to find on the internet. Here’s one story that offers hope to owners of overweight cats everywhere: Tiny’s Big Challenge. Tiny was dropped off at the SPCA in Fredericton, N.B. last Dec. 30 and turned out to be the largest cat the shelter workers had ever seen. Tiny tipped the scales at 13.6 kg (30.2 lb). Since then, Tiny has been on a very public weight loss campaign with his foster family. He charts his progress on his Facebook page, where he has over 4,000 fans. As of October 2, Tiny now weighs 8.4 kg (18.5 lb), proving that it can be done!

How can you tell if your cat is overweight? Get your hands on your cat and use this chart for evaluation:imageIf your cat’s body condition score is higher than 3, your cat is overweight or obese. Veterinarians have several dietary options as well as other tools and plans to help you accomplish safe and successful weight loss for your cat. It’s important that a weight loss plan is supervised by your veterinarian because a full health evaluation should be performed to see if other diseases already exist and to ensure the plan is safe and nutritionally sound. Talk to your veterinarian today!

Veterinarians: October 10 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day and you can sign up to participate in this year’s survey.

Pet owners: have a look at the pet obesity stats and information at Pet365 Blog. You’ll be amazed at the facts they’ve put together. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has weight loss tools and information on cat foods and calories you will find useful.

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